Gordon Samuels bigraphy, stories - Australian judge

Gordon Samuels : biography

12 August 1923 - 10 December 2007

Gordon Jacob Samuels (12 August 192310 December 2007) was a British-Australian lawyer, judge and Governor of New South Wales from 1996 to 2001.

Born in London in 1923, Samuels was educated at University College School and Balliol College, Oxford. After serving in the Second World War, he was called to the bar and emigrated to Australia in 1949. Serving as a barrister in Sydney, Samuels was made a Queen's Counsel in 1964 and appointed as a Judge of the Supreme Court of New South Wales in 1972.

Samuels was later appointed a Judge of the New South Wales Court of Appeal in 1974, serving till his mandatory retirement in 1993, aged 70. A member of the University of New South Wales Council from 1969, Samuels was appointed Chancellor of the University of New South Wales in 1976, serving until 1994, being the longest-serving Chancellor. On retirement from law, Samuels became Chairman of the Law Reform Commission of New South Wales, a position he held until he was appointed Governor in 1996. As Governor of New South Wales, he endured significant controversy over the decision not to reside in Government House, Sydney. Despite this he served with distinction and retired in March 2001. He died aged 84 in December 2007.

Judicial and academic career

In 1972, Samuels was appointed a Judge of the Supreme Court of New South Wales, being elevated to the Court of Appeal in 1974. As a Judge of Appeal until 1992, and as an Acting Judge afterwards until 1993, he participated in many of the leading decisions of that court. On Samuels time as a Judge, Justice Michael Kirby commented: "His talents as an appellate judge shone brightly. No judge was more gifted in delivering accurate and elegant ex-tempore reasons immediately following argument. He displayed a command of facts and law and the well-furnished mind that he brought to the resolution of every judicial problem."

While a Judge of Appeal, Samuels performed many other public functions. These included as President of the Australian Academy of Forensic Sciences (1974–1976), President of the Australian Society of Legal Philosophy (1976–1979), President of the Commonwealth Security Appeals Tribunal (1989–1990), Chairman of the Australian Legal Education Council (1981–1985), and Presiding Member of the Advisory Committee on the Educational Needs of Overseas Trained Doctors and of the NSW Migrant Employment and Qualifications Board (1992–1995).

A member of the University of New South Wales Council from 1969, Samuels was appointed Chancellor of the University of New South Wales in 1976. In this time he was involved in the establishment of the UNSW foundation, became a life member of the UNSW Sports Association, was the inaugural presiding member of the Australia Ensemble and became patron of the UNSW Alumni Association. On 8 June 1987, Samuels was made a Companion of the Order of Australia (AC) for "service to learning, to the community and to law"., AC, 8 June 1987, itsanhonour.gov.auCitation: AC QB 87.For service to learning, to the community and to the law.

In 1992 the "Samuels Building" was opened on the UNSW Kensington campus. This new research building was named in his and his wife's honour in recognition of their services to the university since 1976. When he retired from this position in 1994, he was awarded the degree of Doctor of Science, honoris causa, by the university. His wife, Mrs Samuels, was awarded the degree of Doctor of the University, honoris causa. On turning 70 in 1993, the age of mandatory judicial retirement, Samuels retired from the bench and became Chairman of the Law Reform Commission of New South Wales, a position he held until he was appointed Governor in 1996.

Titles, styles and honours

Titles

  • 19231964: Mr Gordon Samuels
  • 19641971: Mr Gordon Samuels QC
  • 19711972: Mr Gordon Samuels QC, President of the New South Wales Bar Association
  • 19721974: The Honourable Mr Justice Gordon Samuels, Judge of the Supreme Court
  • 19741976: The Honourable Mr Justice Gordon Samuels, Judge of the Court of Appeal
  • 19761987: The Honourable Mr Justice Gordon Samuels, Judge of the Court of Appeal, Chancellor of the University of New South Wales
  • 19871992: The Honourable Mr Justice Gordon Samuels AC, Judge of the Court of Appeal, Chancellor of the University of New South Wales
  • 19921993: The Honourable Mr Justice Gordon Samuels AC, Judge (Acting) of the Court of Appeal, Chancellor of the University of New South Wales
  • 19931994: The Honourable Gordon Samuels AC, QC, Chancellor of the University of New South Wales
  • 19941996: The Honourable Gordon Samuels AC, QC, Chairman of the Law Reform Commission of New South Wales
  • 19962000: His Excellency The Honourable Gordon Samuels AC, QC, Governor of New South Wales
  • 20002001: His Excellency The Honourable Gordon Samuels AC, CVO, QC, Governor of New South Wales
  • 20012007: The Honourable Gordon Samuels AC, CVO, QC
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